One of many interesting developments in music this year was the emergence of outsider dance music, a genre that saw noise artists move toward beat driven music and offering a new take on it. From the mutant house of 100% Silk to the techno of Diamond Catalogue, much of it was interesting, if not really good.
While definitely not a release to lump in with outsider beats, Mold Omen’s Blacktop sets out on a somewhat parallel path. The opening track on the Baltimore duo’s cassette, “The Driver/The Mechanic,” demonstrates that although there are no real beats to speak of here, there are elements of beat-driven music along with heavy doses of noise. Interestingly, these two elements are set against each other creating a sharp contrast whereby any remnant of rhythm is threatened to become overwhelmed by noise. This makes for a thrilling listen as “The Driver/The Mechanic” drags you along to the finish line. The term ‘drag’ is key here for describing this track; the undercurrent-like rhythm pulls you with it only to plunge you into a sea of noise.
The next two tracks make a sharp break with the noise of the first; pulling back to explore a more drone-like territory with machine-like whines, delayed tones, and heavy emphasis on atmosphere.The listener will remain captivated when listening to this cassette by all the different pieces, sounds, and textures that emerge. These diverse elements create an engaging release that rewards the listener for close listening.
Fans of this cassette’s label, Cae-sur-a, have come to expect nothing less from this Rochester-based imprint.
Review by Andrew White